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DC Insider: Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is here

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The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.

What makes V2V work?

V2V uses dedicated short-range communications, similar to Wi-Fi, that are combined with the Global Positioning System. This system provides a 360-degree view of similarly equipped vehicles within communication range. Nine indicators are used by a V2V system to help prevent crashes. They are GPS position, speed, acceleration, heading, transmission state, brake status, steering wheel angle, path history and path prediction.

According to the DOT, information transmitted by each vehicle would be anonymous and won’t include personal identifiers, such as a name and license plate number. Additionally, a sophisticated security system would be in place to ensure communication between vehicles is authentic and can be trusted.

When a crash is predicted, the vehicle will provide a warning to the driver with a seat vibration, visual display or a combination of these indicators. Automobile manufacturers will use different interfaces to alert the driver and passengers.

How do motorcycles fit into this emerging technology?

As envisioned, motorcycles would have similar equipment to other motor vehicles — such as an antennae and a module to store the short-range communication device and GPS. The rider would remain in full control of the motorcycle. The technology would make it possible for other similarly equipped vehicles to “see” the motorcyclist.

"Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with safety belts and air bags," said U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. "By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go, while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry."

What are the AMA’s concerns?

With safety and privacy our utmost priorities, the AMA has some areas of concern with V2V technology. The DOT has stated that privacy and system are secure. We aren’t convinced. The AMA has provided comments to the Federal Communication Commission stating that the V2V technology may be compromised with unlicensed devices, such as other Wi-Fi networks. We asked the FCC for further testing to ensure vehicles using advanced crash-avoidance and vehicle-to-vehicle- technologies are not compromised.

V2V technology presents another potential problem. With intersections already a well-documented problem for motorcyclists, can you imagine the false sense of security that drivers may have while relying on advanced safety technologies? They may listen and look for the bells and whistles on their cars rather than look out the windows to actually see motorcycles. Drivers may believe these technologies will protect them and other road users and may not be aware that these technologies could possibly malfunction at a critical moment.

What is next?

The NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and is scheduled to publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks. The report will include analysis of the department's research findings in several key areas, including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles, consistent with applicable legal requirements, executive orders, and guidance. The DOT believes that the signal this announcement sends to the market will significantly enhance development of this technology and pave the way for market penetration of V2V safety applications.

As these new technologies emerge we must remain vigilant to ensure that motorcyclists, and motorcyclists’ rights, are protected. The AMA is at the forefront in this effort and we will continue to inform our members and motorcyclists about our concerns and possible

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